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64 “ . . . I would have you know of what I am and whence I came, though I have given you glimpses in the past. That done, I will make plain why I am charged with this that puts my life in danger, which would make you blush that you ever knew me if it were true. And I will show you first a picture as it runs before me, sitting here, the corn of my dungeon garden twining in my fingers:— “A multiplying width of green grass spotted with white flowers, an upland where sheep browsed on a carpet of purple and gold and green, a tall rock on a hill where birds perched and fluttered, a blue sky arching over all. There, sprawling in a garden, a child pulled at long blades of grass, as he watched the birds flitting about the rocks, and heard a low voice coming down the wind. Here in my dungeon I can hear the voice as I have not heard it since that day in the year 1730—that voice stilled so long ago. The air and the words come floating down (for the words I knew years afterwards): ‘Did ye see the white cloud in the glint o’ the sun? That’s the brow and the eye o’ my bairnie. Did ye ken the red bloom at the bend o’ the crag? That’s the rose in the cheek o’ my bairnie. Chapter VI Moray Tells the Story of His Life 65 Did ye hear the gay lilt o’ the lark by the burn? That’s the voice of my bairnie, my dearie. Did ye smell the wild scent in the green o’ the wood? That’s the breath o’ my ain, o’ my bairnie. Sae I’ll gang awa’ hame, to the shine o’ the fire, To the cot where I lie wi’ my bairnie.’ “These words came crooning over the grass of that little garden at Balmore which was by my mother’s home. There I was born one day in June, though I was reared in the busy streets of Glasgow, where my father was a prosperous merchant and famous for his parts and honesty. “I see myself, a little child of no great strength, for I was, indeed, the only one of my family who lived past infancy, and my mother feared she should never bring me up. She, too, is in that picture, tall, delicate, kind yet firm of face, but with a strong brow, under which shone grave gray eyes, and a manner so distinguished that none might dispute her kinship to the renowned Montrose, who was lifted so high in dying, though his gallows was but thirty feet, that all the world has seen him there. There was one other in that picture, standing near my mother, and looking at me, who often used to speak of our great ancestor—my grandfather, John Mitchell, the Gentleman of Balmore, as he was called, out of regard for his ancestry and his rare merits. “I have him well in mind: his black silk breeches and white stockings and gold seals, and two eyes that twinkled with great humour when, as he stooped over me, I ran my head between his calves and held him tight. I recall how my mother said, ‘I doubt that I shall ever bring him up,’ and how he replied (the words seem to come through great distances to me), ‘He’ll live to be Montrose the second, rascal laddie! Four seasons at the breast? Tut, tut! what o’ that? ’Tis but his foolery, his scampishness! Nae, nae! his epitaph’s no for writing till you 66 and I are tucked i’ the sod, my Jeanie. Then, like Montrose’s, it will be— ‘Tull Edinburrow they led him thair, And on a gallows hong; They hong him high abone the rest, He was so trim a boy.’ “I can hear his laugh this minute, as he gave an accent to the words by stirring me with his stick, and I caught the gold head of it and carried it off, trailing it through the garden, till I heard my mother calling, and then forced her to give me chase, as I pushed open a little gate and posted away into that wide world of green, coming quickly to the river, where I paused and stood at bay. I can see my mother’s anxious face now, as she caught me to her arms; and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781771120456
Related ISBN
9781771120449
MARC Record
OCLC
966771243
Pages
408
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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